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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Bad Birthday

Today is my birthday. While today should have otherwise been a day of celebration, it was anything but that.

Recently, I received an email seeking a prospective quality control analyst for a work from home position. The job description explained that I would be receiving packages at my home, opening them up and submitting reports via an online portal to the company, and then using a prepaid shipping label to send the package out to another location. I was admittedly suspicious, however I googled the name of the company (Saratoga QCA) with the express purpose of finding out if it was fraudulent. When the initial google search turned up nothing out of the ordinary, I accepted the job, filled out the paperwork, and submitted info to begin receiving packages for analysis. I received, and sent out one, on Friday, thinking nothing of it.

But in what may have been a technical difficulty of divine intervention, I could not access the online portal where I would check for messages and packages being sent out this morning when I turned on the computer. I kept getting a DNS error, and this happened across multiple devices. I checked the network settings on my computer and on the router, even going so far as to reboot the router. Still the same result. I attempted to email the individual with whom I had been corresponding about this position to ask what needed to be done since the portal was inaccessible, but a red flag popped up when I saw that email bounce. A phone call to the number provided on the application revealed a disconnected number. But what made my stomach drop was when I googled Saratoga QCA again to find their website for other contact information, and the website was gone. In its place was a scam alert forum advising people that Saratoga QCA was a reshipping scam website, trafficking in stolen or otherwise fraudulently obtained goods. Checking the IP addresses of the portal URL and the alert sites confirmed their being fraudulent.

Instead of accompanying my husband to the mall where he had gone to fill out a job application and getting a free birthday makeover at Sephora, I spent all morning contacting local law enforcement agencies, as well as filling out an online crime complaint with the FBI. I had my husband check our joint account for any suspicious activity because I gave that account information to the company for direct deposit payment. He confirmed no suspicious activity in the account. I did have him alert the bank to put fraud alerts on the account just in case. Unfortunately, because I did not lose any money to this outfit, there was not much that the police department could do. They just advised me to keep an eye on my accounts and credit reports and contact them if anything suspicious happens. They also advised me to reject any shipments of packages and cease contact with anyone claiming to be from Saratoga QCA immediately. I have kept all correspondence, invoices, and shipping labels from this outfit as evidence in case I have to produce it for the authorities.

To find out you've been the victim of a scam always sucks. But when you find out you've been a victim ON YOUR BIRTHDAY, it's even worse! I suppose I shouldn't beat myself up too much. I did research this outfit beforehand, and found nothing indicating fraud. They certainly were quite sophisticated in their presentation.

My husband, bless his heart, tried to make my day a bit brighter. He bought me a birthday cake.

My German Chocolate birthday cake. My hubby had the bakery inscribe on it "Happy Birthday Honey Bunny". It's an inside joke

One year older, ever more wise. Be careful out there.

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